Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The magic of colour (Part 2)

Solid Ground

In the end, the only appropriate basis for choosing a colour is that you feel good about it and it suits your home and the way you live. All too often, though, inexperience leaves the first-time decorator vulnerable to unwholesome influences. Of these, the most prevalent are fashion and cowardice. Like decorating styles, fashionable colours change from year to year and keeping up with every new furnishing can be considerablym more costly than updating your wardrobe. It's also true that the relentless pursuit of novelty sometimes throws the spotlight on shades that are as impractical and unflattering as they are unusual.

Perhaps the most widespread of all incentives for choosing room colours, however, is timidity. Although the past few years have seen an encouraging burst of enthusiasm for colour, millions of walls are still being painted white or off-white because they're regarded as 'safe' and they 'go with everything'. There's no doubt that decorating palettes based on pale, neutral tints can look stunning, but only when the choice is a positive and informed one, not a design cop-out. Keep in mind, too, that pure white walls are best suited to parts of the world where natural light is abundant. In more temperate climes (and darkish rooms) they tend to take on a grey
and dingy cast. To increase the impression of light, choose soft, white witha hint of pink, yellow or apricot, or be brave and opt for a full-blooded version of one of these warmer hues. And unless you're prepared for the harsh glare of chemical brighteners, steer clear of any tin marked 'brilliant' white.

Test an Trial

Not surprisingly, large areas of colour - walls, floors, curtains and upholstery- tend to inspire the most anxiety, which is perfectly understandable, since mistakes on this scale are not only difficult to ignore, but also very expensive, Before you commit yourself to any of these major elements, try to get hold of decent-sized samples of all the options so you can see them in sit. When it comes to paint, postage-stamp sized squares on a colour card will not do the job. Most manufacturers sell sample pots of all their standard colours. Buy one of each shade you're considering, brush the colours onto separate strips of plain lining paper and pin them to the wall. If your favourite shades need to be specially moxed, don't hesitate to pay for a small tinof each one.
Similarly, the swatches of carpet and furnishing fabric that most stores give away are of very little practical use, but many suppliers will let you have more generous samples - especially of carpet- if you leave a small, returnable deposit. Again, if small fabric cuttings are all that's on offer, invest in lenghts of two or three metres that you can tuck over a curtain rail or drape across a chair. When your samples are in place, leave them there for a week or two so that you can see how each one looks throughtout the day, and in different lights. You will find that living with the alternatives over a period of time leads you almost unconsciously towards your final choice.

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